Following yesterday’s elections, the governor’s seats in two states will soon be occupied by Democrats supportive of cannabis law reforms; as Phil Murphy defeated in Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno in New Jersey, and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie in Virginia.
Murphy had made recreational cannabis legalization one of the planks in his platform and in his primary victory speech indicated he wanted to sign a legalization bill within his first 100 days in office. His election drew praise from advocates and pro-legalization lawmakers in the state as he replaces staunch prohibitionist Chris Christie.
Scott Rudder, president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association and a New Jersey legislator from 2008 to 2012, said in a statement that Murphy’s election represents “a win for medical cannabis patients” and “the first step in fixing decades of failed and unjust cannabis laws.”
NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri opined in a press release that Murphy’s victory was “because of, not in spite of, his open and vocal support for legalizing marijuana.”
In Virginia, Northam will replace outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe, in what many pundits are calling a rebuke of President Donald Trump. While Northam’s cannabis reform opinions are not ‘full steam ahead’ like his New Jersey counterpart, he did pen a letter to the Virginia State Crime Commission in August calling for decriminalizing simple cannabis possession in the state. In that letter, Northam called the state’s cannabis sentencing and enforcement laws “costly and disproportionately harmful to communities of color.”
Northman suggested that the $67 million in savings derived from decriminalization could be used to create 13,000 pre-k openings.